President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration is not against the ongoing agitations for constitutional reforms, but due process must be followed in achieving such goals.
Buhari made this position known in a broadcast to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day on Saturday.
According to him, the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly (NASS).
He, however, expressed the readiness of his administration to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the NASS.
He said: ”In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, Government also recognizes the need to acknowledge notions of marginalization and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.
”While this government is not averse to constitutional reform as part of our nation-building process, everyone must understand that the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly.
”This body which, as I said, is the arm of government responsible for constitutional changes has concluded the preliminary stages of amending and improving our constitution in a way that the majority of Nigerians will be happy with.
“Government is, however, willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard.”
On the COVID-19 pandemic, the president noted that the government’s response to the pandemic involved making hard choices in balancing livelihoods and public health concerns.
“In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared,’’ he said.
He, however, stated that the government was able to ensure that the various lockdown measures did not impact too negatively on the ability of ordinary Nigerians to continue sustaining their livelihoods.
The president disclosed that, during the pandemic, his administration disbursed N5,000 each to one million Nigerians using a Rapid Response Register.
He said the government also advanced N20,000 to 750,000 to beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program and provided 1.37 million Nigerians with palliatives from CACOVID.
The president revealed that the federal government released 109,000 metric tonnes of food reserve stocks and 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to the poor and vulnerable in all 36 states of the federation to cushion the negative impacts of the pandemic.
He stated that, in addition, the government reduced interest rates from nine percent to five percent for struggling businesses and extended credit facilities to 548,345 beneficiaries.